Cat Popper, the in-demand New York City bass player and member of the trio Puss N Boots with Norah Jones and Sasha Dobson, wants you to know that whatever you’re feeling right now is just fine. Anguished in the 21st century? Happy in a pandemic? It’s all OK.
Popper writes as much in her lilting new song “Maybe It’s All Right,” the first song — like, ever — that the musician has written in her 25-year career. The song arrives Wednesday with a video, directed by Vivian Wang, that shows off Popper’s playful side: she traipses all over New York in search of buildings she’s seen in timeless photos. Many are still standing — even if some have become a CVS.
“I didn’t mean to make a song. Honestly, writing music is not my go-to. I like looking at birds and metal detecting and farting around by the water,” Popper says. “But I like the idea of a song being a block of stone and me chiseling away what’s unnecessary to get to what’s waiting there for me to find it. So in a record four months (a record for me) I wrote this song about how complicated it can be to feel very conflicting emotions at the same time. And if ‘accepting the unacceptable’ is impossible at that moment, ‘Maybe It’s All Right’ is a fantastic prayer of sorts to keep me out of obsessing about having to know anything.”
Along with her work with Puss N Boots, Popper, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, has played bass for artists from Jack White and Brian Fallon to Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band and Jesse Malin, who makes a brief cameo in the “Maybe It’s All Right” video. (Velvet Elk, the label Malin operates with Don DiLego are releasing Popper’s single.)
In addition to “looking at birds and metal detecting,” Popper also sells T-shirts and stuff. She’s donating a portion of the proceeds from her merchandise sales to the Tenement Museum in New York City.